Things to do in Canterbury

Visit a world heritage site, take a punt along the river Stour and enjoy fabulous food and entertainment on a trip to Canterbury

World Heritage Site

Set on the river Stour, the medieval cathedral city of Canterbury is steeped in history and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At its centre is Canterbury Cathedral, the seat of England’s first Archbishop, St Augustine, and the focus for thousands of pilgrims following the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170. This magnificent ancient building has a Romanesque crypt dating back to the 11th century and stunning medieval stained-glass windows.

Museums, galleries and attractions

The city has some fascinating museums and if you’re wondering where to start, take a journey underground at the Canterbury Roman Museum. Here you can see reconstructed Roman rooms, discover hidden treasure and admire the beautiful mosaics.

Explore the city’s famous literary connections and step back in time to 14th-century England when Geoffrey Chaucer penned The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer’s stories are brought to life by costumed characters at the Canterbury Tales visitor attraction in the historic St Margaret’s Church. Art lovers will be inspired by the Lilford Gallery, one of Kent’s leading contemporary art galleries, where you can see work by established national and international artists as well as emerging talent. Both the Sidney Cooper Gallery at Canterbury Christ Church University and the Conquest House Gallery also have changing exhibitions that are well worth a visit.

The Canterbury Heritage Museum is great for families with displays ranging from Anglo-Saxon treasures to much-loved children’s characters such as Bagpuss and Rupert Bear. Kids will also love the enchanted woodland of Druidstone Park and the African elephants, giant anteaters and black rhinos at Howletts Wild Animal Park.

Open spaces

Canterbury boasts some lovely gardens and open spaces. Just a stone’s throw from the High Street is Dane John Garden where you can enjoy excellent views across the city and surrounding countryside. There are ancient woodlands to explore at the Blean Woods National Nature Reserve while the Goodnestone Park Gardens have been described as some of the loveliest in Kent – perfect for a peaceful day out.

There are several ways to get around the city and the surrounding countryside. Take a relaxing trip along the river Stour in a punt or stroll along one of the area’s many walking paths. Cyclists are also well catered for with a network of cycle routes.

Canterbury breaks

Stylish shopping

Canterbury is a great destination for a spot of retail therapy. In the heart of the city you’ll find the award-winning Whitefriars Shopping Centre, which is home to leading fashion retailers, including Fenwick’s department store and outlets such as River Island, Next and Zara. If you’re looking for high-end fashion, head to the Marlowe Arcade where you’ll find brands such as Karen Millen, Hobbs and Coast.

The city also has a great selection of specialist, independent shops. Close to the bustling High Street is the King’s Mile, a cluster of streets by the cathedral walls. Wander its cobbled streets and admire the handsome timber-framed buildings where you’ll find traditional shops selling everything from antiques and art to clothing and jewellery.

Food and drink

Canterbury has a thriving café culture so remember to allow yourself time to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Tiny Tim’s Tearoom or a coffee at the Water Lane Coffeehouse. The Goods Shed is an indoor farmer’s market and food hall stocking the very best in local produce. There are many fabulous eateries in the city and you’ll find local fresh fish on the menu at Chapman’s restaurant and modern British food at Deeson’s. The city also boasts an impressive selection of international cuisine ranging from Mexican and North African to Japanese and Caribbean.


With a great range of traditional pubs and stylish bars, a buzzing night scene and two fabulous theatres, you’ll never be short of things to do in Canterbury after dark. The Foundry Brew Pub has its own on-site microbrewery and you can watch the brewing process taking place while enjoying a pint of their fine cask ale. You’ll also find olde-world charm and traditional ales at Parrot and The City Arms, two of the city’s oldest pubs.

The Marlowe Theatre is one of the country’s leading regional theatres and offers a varied programme of music, drama, comedy, opera, ballet and West End musicals. Canterbury is also home to Gulbenkian, the arts centre of the University of Kent, which presents regular performances of film, theatre and dance. Its cinema screens live broadcasts from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House as well blockbusters, independent, foreign language and art house films.

So if it’s museums, open spaces or shopping that interests you, our hotels in Canterbury can help you experience the very best that this town has to offer.